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RNO Roundtable: Survivor’s Outcast Twist – Great Idea or Unfair Rule Change?by RealityNewsOnline Staff -- 11/11/2003
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Whatever twists Survivor has previously had, they have never been as controversial as the Outcast Tribe, bringing back previously-ejected contestants. The writers of RealityNewsOnline have been discussing this issue at length. We hear from (in alphabetical order): David Bloomberg, Jason Borelli, Jeffrey Clinard, Paris Cosby, Mike DeGeorge, C. Brian Devinney, and Sting7.
Jeffrey Clinard: Every edition of Survivor has provided the players and audience with something new and different. It's ranged from minor (Survivor 2 had the tribes merge at a third location instead of using an existing camp) to major (tribe swapping in Survivor 3). Survivor: Pearl Islands has provided the biggest twist of all – the return of the exiled players into a third "Outcast" tribe, and a chance for an Outcast or two to re-enter the game (the chance was not guaranteed; if both Morgan and Drake had beaten them in the challenge, they'd have been sent home for good).
I'm not a Survivor purist – I don't mind twists and turns to stir up the game. After all, every survival situation is different, and adaptation is a key survival skill. Indeed, I feel playing the game "straight" every time would quickly lead it to being stale and predictable. So I don't mind the exiles returning with a chance to influence the game. The key word, however, is influence, not unbalance, which I believe is exactly what giving the Outcasts a chance to return to the game is doing.
There is usually a good reason which leads to the exile of Survivors before the merge. The reasons include poor challenge performance (e.g. Sonya, S1), illness (e.g. Diane, S3), game / tribal misfit (e.g. Kimmi, S2), tribal idiocy (e.g. Hunter, S4) and self-destruction (e.g. Nicole, S7). Political victims occur before the merge, but it far less common in that stage of the game compared to post-merge, where politics are the primary reason for exile. Re-entering the game allows the person to bypass the mistake which led to their first elimination, with knowledge of what went wrong the first time.
Of course, sometimes players aren't really sure why they were eliminated or what they should do differently. This is true of the tribes as well. Burton learned his lesson (don't throw challenges or make fun of other tribe members). Lillian didn't (she reverted to the same habits that made her an Outcast to begin with – doing everything from wood gathering to water runs alone). The tribes also responded differently; Drake accepted the situation and made an effort to integrate Rupert; Morgan didn't try to integrate Lillian.
On the whole, I like the idea of Outcasts returning to haunt the people who eliminated them, but don't like the idea of them fully entering the game again. I'd much prefer to have them stay in the game as a constant thorn in the sides to those who remain. I wouldn't be adverse to have them participate in an ongoing basis in some of the challenges (perhaps playing for the regular reward in that challenge, and getting the right to vote at the merged tribal council if they won the immunity challenge), with them also forced to vote out an Outcast during their own tribal council (thus slowly eliminating them as a game power as the game progresses to end-game).
Paris Cosby: Personally, I'm a fan of the Outcasts! I know it goes against the whole torch and "the tribe has spoken" rule of Survivor but, frankly, the show was getting a tad too predictable. This was a twist that made the game extremely exciting again – for me anyway.
I don't think bringing a player back into the game after they've had their torch snuffed should be done in any other series of Survivor though. It was certainly well-placed here and a completely unexpected twist that fit in extremely well with the whole pirate theme. The game, as a whole, needed a little shaking up and reviving and this did it; but once is enough. I'd like to see future games shaken up even more – only in a different way.
I also love the way Mark Burnett has made this more of a themed show. He's made pirates and pillaging all the rage once again. The individual immunity sword is amazing! I love it! I don't think I've ever been so enamored by any other season of Survivor. I love this game!
Sting7: The Big Twist has to be considered a success in that it has definitely generated a buzz, and a deserving one, for this excellent season. For my money, this has been the best season of Survivor since the original. The ratings were quite high and it made for brilliant television. Burton's performance in the challenge was simply inspiring!
But was it fair? Absolutely not. Never before in Survivor history has an eliminated player been able to come back in. This, to me, was important. While many other shows seemed to make up the rules on the fly, letting players back in for a variety of vague, and usually lame, reasons, Survivor has always held fast to the rule that when you're out, you're out. It's this consistency that helped make Survivor the greatest and most respected of the competitive reality shows.
To the castaways, this was patently unfair. It affected every facet of their gameplay and there was no bigger victim than Andrew. Lill perceived him as someone who did her wrong. She says he promised to tell her if she was being voted out and he didn't. Andrew's been saying he did, but the point is this: if she weren't coming back, and there was no reason to think she would based on the history of the show, it wouldn't have mattered if he told her or not. She would have been just as gone. Thanks to the twist, Lill had a chance to exact a little revenge, warranted or not.
Great television, but ultimately unfair. And, I have to say, the integrity of the game has been seriously compromised. Was it worth it? Time will tell.1 2 3 4 5 Next-->
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